By Michael Kinney
NORMAN – After forcing only 11 turnovers in 2018, first-year defensive coordinator Alex Grinch talked about making that an emphasis this season for Oklahoma. During the Sooners 70-14 won over South Dakota Saturday, it showed as they came away with three takeaways on the night.
“It was the No. 1 thing we talked about all week defensively,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said. “They were challenged every way possible and we responded.”
The beneficiary of the two was sophomore nickelback Brendan Radley-Hiles. He recovered a fumble and picked off an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
“It just makes us hungrier. You get one you have to make sure you get another one the next game,” Radley-Hiles said. “I feel as if Coach Grinch emphasized it a lot this week in practice so we went out and made sure we got that for him.”
Despite the lopsided score, the Sooners were not completely happy with their performance. Quarterback Jalen Hurts, who seems to only settle for perfection, said the team still has work to do.
Yet, Oklahoma was still able to rack up 733 total yards. That includes 310 coming on the ground behind Rhamondre Stevenson (104), Kennedy Brooks (69), Trey Sermon (58 and Hurts (57).
“We did some really good things out there tonight and then there are some things that we really need to approve on,” Hurts said.
On the Sooners second possession, they drove 80 yards for the first points of the game. The drive included Hurts throwing to Lamb three times, including a 3-yard touchdown catch in the middle of the endzone.
It was Jeremiah Hall who reached the endzone on the Sooner’s next possession when he grabbed an 8- yard TD pass from Hurts.
Oklahoma didn’t allow the Coyotes’ offense to cross midfield until early in the second quarter. They made their way down to the Sooner’s 23 yard on their first successful drive of the game.
But Neville Gallimore forced a fumble and Radley-Hiles recovered it at the 13 to stop South Dakota’s momentum cold.
Touchdowns from Brooks and Charleston Rambo put OU ahead 28-0 at halftime.
Radley-Hiles started the second half with an interception, which he returned 30 yards for a touchdown.
“Everybody feels good for him, especially because he knows we all know he had a tough year last year,” DaShaun White said of Radley-Hiles. “Just how much he’s put into it this offseason, just seeing him get his chance and make big plays, it makes us all feel good.”
On the next possession, Trey Sermon scored and the Sooners led 42-0 with 11:03 left in the third quarter.
The rest of the night was just about Oklahoma getting in its younger, inexperienced players. Wideout Jaden Haselwood caught his first career touchdown while Stevenson broke open for a 75 TD run. Quarterback Spencer Rattler, wideouts Theo Wease and Trejan Bridges and guard Brey Walker also saw some time.
“I was like a proud father,” Lamb said. “I was watching and screaming all across the sidelines. they did a great job today. Obviously, they all touched the end zone when they needed to.”
Rattler, who was the top-ranked quarterback in the 2019 class didn’t disappoint. He was 4-for-4 for 50 yards and a touchdown pass.
“I was excited when I heard he was going out there,” Lamb said. “I actually gave him a talk. ‘Go do what you do.’ For him to go out there and showcase his potential – the sky’s the limit … All the hype he had going into college is true – he’s above that.”
Hurts finished the night with 259 yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-18 passing. Lamb caught six passes for 144 yards and a score.
Oklahoma (2-0) travels to UCLA next week as they look to improve to 3-0.
Michael Kinney is a Freelance Content Provider